Now that the sun is shining, we'll be spending more time on the deck. Devote some time to cleaning your outdoor furniture and it will be all set for another season. Practice some of these simple tips every year to keep your furniture looking great.
First decide whether your outdoor pieces can be simply cleaned or whether they are in need of a new paint job. If so, clean them up, but put them aside for further attention.
Use a mile dishwashing detergent that has no bleaching agents or abrasives.
Refrain from using the harsh jets of a power washer. A simple sponge or cloth followed by a rinse with the hose is all you need.
Wicker: The basket weave is prone to trapping dirt and can be difficult to clean. Try using a brush attachment on your vacuum and then sponge off with an oil-based soap. Rinse well with clean water.
Wrought Iron/Metal: Rust will be your biggest culprit when cleaning metal furniture. Sand it with a fine sandpaper, wipe with a tack cloth and then touch-up with an exterior paint with a built-in rust protector. Especially for decorative metal with lots of swirls and curves, apply a couple coats of wax to keep it looking nice.
For stainless steel, use the same polish that you would for a stainless steel appliance and never use anything abrasive. You may have to apply it monthly for extra protection from the elements.
Teak: The natural oil in teak protects it against moisture and rot, but it still needs to be cleaned up. Sponge off with mild soap and water and apply teak cleanser on any stains. A mild sandpaper will also work on any surface stains.
If you want to retain the beautiful honey color of the wood, apply a teak brightener and sealer to protect from the sun.
Resin: If the furniture is a wicker look type of resin, try using a soft bristle brush to get under the crevices and then wipe clean. For any stubborn stains, use vinegar or bleach mixed with water.
Wood: Regardless of what type of wood you are cleaning, to get rid of mildew, use a soft bristle brush and a mixture of oxygen bleach and water. To perk up the color, try using a semi-transparent stain or an oil finish to protect it from the sun.
Marble: Sponge of with mild soap and water and apply a stone sealer every year to protect the finish.
Plastic: This type of material will last for years if well cared for. Mild soap and water is usually adequate, but use a soft bristle brush and household cleaner for stubborn stains. Plastic is porous and tends to stain, but a couple coats of car wax will keep it looking like new.
Aluminum: Never use anything harsh on aluminum or the coating could be subject to rust and corrosion. Again, car wax works great to protect the surface. Cast aluminum can stay outside year round, but tubular aluminum furniture needs to come indoors.
Fabric: Clean with a sponge and mild soap, using stain remover for any stubborn spots. A combination of nonchlorine bleach and water is good for mildew. Once a year, spray the fabric with a protector that guards against UV rays, moisture and stains.
Remember at the end of the season, place your furniture in a covered area, or bring it indoors. Some people like to use covers, but ensure they are made of a completely breathable material or you will be dealing with a mold problem next spring.
If your pieces are still in good shape, but starting to look tired, they may be in need of either a paint touch-up or some new cushions to perk them up.
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